Nathan Hale, some Chimera and a few guns. Those three things are the only links between this and the original Resistance, the PS3’s European flagship title and one that, despite being a solid FPS, never really set the world on fire. So, here we are with the sequel, which has not only pushed the dial marked ‘crazy shit’ all the way to eleven but broken the switch, so it’s locked there, and it’s taking you down with it.
First things first, Resistance 2 isn’t subtle. It’s like a sledgehammer FPS, designed to perpetually keep you on your toes and led down constantly pre-scripted funnels of gameplay – it’s as if Insomniac realised what made games like Halo so good, the 10 second sections, and filled a Blu-ray disk with them. Along with a hurried re-route to America the pace of the game has been increased two-fold, the gore beefed up and the weapons given a few shots of extra power. It’s a refreshing change from the rather more sedate original but one that doesn’t entirely pay off.
For starters, a good 50% of the game plays out like an exercise in trial and error: imagine Rick Dangerous with a sniper rifle and you’re half way there. Turn the wrong way at a junction and get overwhelmed, start again. Fail to notice an invisible enemy and die, start again. Get shot by a rocket you never heard launch, start again. You get the idea: Resistance 2 is chock full of incredibly frustrating sections that aren’t passed with any degree of skill, just a Pavlovian conditioning and a healthy memory.
Thankfully, the controls have been tweaked to enable this new faster pace of game, the notable differences being sprint (which also doubled as duck) on L2 with R2 being the alt fire (R1 is still fire) and L1 for zoom. You’ll be sprinting, zooming and alt-firing like a pro after about, oh, 10 seconds of the game starting, and if you don’t it’s down to Easy level for you, soldier, because the game demands nimble fingers. Sadly, the chunky health bar is no more, instead the now-standard vague red mist gives you an indication of when you’re about to die.
Visually there are tweaks all round: the game, with it’s wider range of location, looks frequently stunning, with rich colours, massively improved environmental details and genuinely jaw-dropping moments (like the San Francisco bridge reveal). Character models have been ramped up, too, the animation and lighting is much better and the sheer amount of stuff on screen plays up to the new style of game Insomniac have crafted. This still isn’t the best looking FPS around, but it’s a great improvement over the first Resistance.
What makes Resistance 2 so enjoyable to play is the way that, cheap restarts aside, the single player campaign is really well designed. It’s consistently good, never great but never dull and repetitive, and that counts for a lot as you plug through the story. We never encountered any sections we wouldn’t want to replay, and although the pace, settings and difficulty fluctuate throughout it’s only ever for good reasons, such as to give the player a breather or build up the suspense. Some parts of the game require stealthy sneaking, but they’re few and far between and Hale is often as his best shooting his way out of trouble anyway.
Multiplayer, however, is where Resistance really shines. Naturally, there’s the competitive deathmatch modes (and the much hyped 60-player skirmishes which work well) but the real fun lies in the game’s extensive co-operative elements. With 6 maps (taken from parts of the story from both Resistance games) co-op takes a kind of gaiden approach and allows up to eight players to form up into teams, drawn from three classes: Soldier (big guns and shields), Spec Ops (supply ammo) or Medic (heal players). Each class needs the support of the other two, so an eight man team of 4 soldiers, 2 spec ops and 2 medics is a killer combination.
Classes then earn experience points based on how successful they were at their individual roles which unlocks new abilities such as ‘berserks’ (think perks) and abilities, and you can buy new weaponry and there’s even some simply character customisation. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the multiplayer modes, and it shows, and although it’s a shame there’s no full campaign co-op what is on offer is comprehensive enough for most, and we’re sure there’s going to be DLC in time if there’s enough demand.
An in a nutshell, that’s Resistance 2. It’s a comprehensively complete package – a fun, lengthy but slightly frustrating single player story with some stunning graphics, massive guns and even better enemies, and a multiplayer mode far outweighing that of the original game and one that we’re sure will see a large online community once the game is on the shelves. If you liked the original and are thinking about picking this up on Friday then it’s almost a no-brainer: sure, it’s paced differently and not without flaws, but there’s enough here that’s familiar to warrant a purchase, and what more do you need than Nathan Hale, some Chimera and a few guns?